back to article Asus UX21E Zenbook 11.6in Ultrabook

Having already reviewed the slightly larger Asus UX31E Zenbook for El Reg, and quite liking it, I whinged that sending me the UX21E model would be a waste of time. It wasn’t, obviously, because you’re reading this. I loved it. In fact, I preferred it. Asus UX21E Zenbook Core i5 laptop For such a small device, the Asus UX21E has …

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Go try a MacBook Air

and you will see precisely what Asus is copying. Competition is good and will force Apple to innovate again.

My wife has taken my 11 inch Air as her own as she claims it is the perfect size for her and prefers it to a tablet. I've not seen her so enthusiast about any tech before and I have 30 years of it to hand (could open the house as a computer museum!)

These thin light and solidly sturdy designs are the future of laptops as predicted by Apple a few years ago.

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Bronze badge

Not slagging the Air...

However, I think Apple could learn something here by including a slip case and maybe even monitor/Ethernet adapters. After all, they aren't the cheapest tin in the world and putting a few extra items (one of which is a protective measure) would put some polish on the product.

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Coat

MB Air copy? Not the keyboard though!

The black-on-metal keys are what a PowerBook G4 looked like...

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Van

Metal cases are not innovation, they are what was used pre-plastic fabrication. It's a fad, similar to the clear coloured cases Apple made for it's vain users in the 1990s.

Apple also predicted the future was tablet PCs and Netbooks were dead, only to reduce their screen sizes of their proper computers to that approacing Netbook.

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@Not slagging the Air...

Actually Apple have learned that they don't have to bundle extras to get people to buy them and hence they make more profit. They used to bundle extra items with their products but no don't bother.

You do (or at least did) get a cleaning cloth though and a very nice unboxing experience 8-) Apple have a 3rd Party eco-system for cases etc and so people can take crumbs from their table.

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JDX
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profanity?

I never saw any in Reg articles before. Hardly offended by it, but is it appropriate in serious journalism?

If it's that hard to open, does that mean women will break their nails on it?

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WTF?

Exclamation! marks! in! sub! header!

What's this, an article not about Yahoo! and still the exclamation Points?

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Anonymous Coward

Yay, it's a Macbook Air, without the ability to run OSX. But with a laggy trackpad, broken help videos, eroneous hardware warnings ... wow, it sounds amazing, come on Apple hurry up and get the photocopier going; it sounds like you have some serious catching up to do! Ever since you brought the original Air out in 2008 people have been clamouring for these sort of desirable features, I know you could install Windows and get some of them but we want this level of disfunction as standard and available as soon as we open the box!

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I am truly unsurprised that you.........

............posted that as an AC.

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tedious troll

This kind of lame trolling is why every right minded individual hates apple zealots

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Anonymous Coward

It's an ASUS - Are you CERTAIN that...

...you couldn't run OSX on it? ASUS platforms are highly appreciative of an OSX diet, generally.

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Dump default image, slap on win7, instal codec pack.

Fixed - Troll

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"Dump default image, slap on win7, instal codec pack."

Really? That doesn't sound intuitive to me. Yes, I am fully aware of how to do it, but why the hell should I HAVE to? While AC may have been trolling, some good points are there, and it has nothing to do with ASUS... it has to do with Microsoft. It is not the hardware that's holding PCs back, it's the software.

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and buy two licenses for one computer, good idea.

Memo to self, buy MSFT

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike G

As well as a lot of left minded people.

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jai
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viewing angle

This seems to be the problem with all these ultrabooks that have been reviewed here recently.

I guess that's why they can afford to give away the case and the adapters, because they've skimped on the quality of the screen, and yet are still charging Macbook Air prices.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just an Ultrabook problem

My $1500 (or so) Elitebook from work has the same problem. The screen on the old Dell Latitude it replaced was higher res and had better viewing angles. Lenovo still offers decent screens on some of their higher end business lines, Dell and others might too... but it's next to impossible to find a good display on a mid to consumer grade laptop anymore.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sure the panels are fundamentally the same, after all, how many factories out there can coincidentally be making 11.6" LCD screens, but Apple seems to do something with filters or coatings that makes their screens better than the average PC's. There were tests on some hardware web site (Anandtech?) when the 2nd gen Air was released showing it has higher contrast, saturation, etc. than other similar panels, which is nice.

The viewing angles on my Air are pretty solid, not exceptional, and unfortunately it gets noticeably dimmer *right* at the bottom, but it's terrific when compared to a friend's Acer where it's literally not possible to get a good viewing angle on the screen, i.e., no matter what angle you look at it, part of it is washed out.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Agree.

Was probably unintentional pompous arseness TBH, but exactly what I thought when I read it too.

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Yes indeed, it does look very similar to a MacBook Air. Which in itself looks very similar to the Vaio X505 of 2004. What's your point?

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FAIL

No it doesn't.

Poppycock. The Air only looks like Vaio X505 in so far as they're both laptops and both have metal parts.

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Might I suggest a trip to Specsavers? As if you take the Vaio hinge out of the equation they look damn near identical.

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

This http://www4.pcmag.com/media/images/311273-apple-macbook-air-11-inch-thunderbolt.jpg looks like this http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/i/z/rv/2004/09/vaio-x505-i1.gif? Mate, I think it's you that needs the ocular intervention. This Asus look more like the Air that the Air looks like the Sony. But hey, let's not actual reality get in the way of some good old fashioned Internet bollocks.

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Here's another, ahem, perspective: http://www.sony.it/discussions/servlet/JiveServlet/download/435064-5234/sony-x505-vs-macbook-air.gif

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Nice case, shame about the plasticky looking thick bezel? It's 2012 and screens should go much closer to the edge!

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Anonymous Coward

oooh classy

Shame about the wood chip wallpaper, that will make up a surrounding background to the ultra thin bezels people pay a premium for to try and look posh. (when they're not posing in starbucks)

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Not a MBA

Why is everybody saying this looks like a MBA? Normally I'm the first to jump on the "Copycat, copycat" bandwagon when a product clearly is a fruity ripoff (Samsung, looking at you baby) but this one doesn't really look at all like a MBA besides having a screen, keyboard, trackpad and case in roughly the same proportions.

Save the righteous indignation for when it's really needed people, there are enough true copycats out there upon which to vent your fury.

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Sure it's thin

But what's missing for me is built in 3g. I still love my trusty Thinkpad X100e with built in 3g & GPS. Sure, it's not as pretty, and it's not as thin, but with an SSD built in it's pretty much bomb proof, and still small enough to carry around.

I suppose I'm not the market segment they're aiming for.

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3G

Why have to pay for a second sim card when many smartphones will enable you to teather?

Well, HTCs will do it nicely, Apple will charge you a fortune for the privilege of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

Not on my iPhone. It was so easy I had to double check there was no other wireless being used as I doubted it could be so easy. Oh, I know, the name confused youi, "Personal Hotspot". Oh and the instructions on how to connect were right there on the screen. Why do they make it so obscure?

Still, why destroy a good prejudice?

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Fair play to Asus

Finally someone has done what the whole ultrabook project was about, made a macbook air clone which is good enough and at the right price to get some windows based machines into that marketplace. I've only ever had good experiences with Asus kit and my Transformer is excellent.

Shame that the screen has such a poor viewing angle, a good screen makes such a difference on a machine you use a lot, but other than that doesn't seem to be much to complain about here.

I'd rather spend £60ish more and get the 11" Air with comparable spec and better screen personally, but if the slipcase, accessories and OS make a difference to you then I can completeley understand going for the Asus.

It's nice to see some proper competetion in this sector, can only be good for the consumer.

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Anonymous Coward

"I'd rather spend £60ish more"

What about spending £300 less and getting a new Transformer?

Sigh... if only I could convince the wife : /

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Transformer doesn't run Adobe Lightroom, so not for me :)

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Or spend 300 quid less on the same thing

Brought in from the US. Amazon US price on the UX21 is $899.

In other news, the UK is still ripped off at every turn.

Hell, for the price difference you're only about 50 quid off a return flight London->New York....

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Viewing angles

Can anyone tell me why they don't put the same screen tech (Super IPS) in these as they do in the Asus Transformer Prime (and Transformer before it). The viewing angles on that go up to "179 degrees" - what's the story, is it a battery-sapping issue?

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Anonymous Coward

Just a guess

$$$$$$$$$s

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They need to sort out the Trackpad

I've been using a Logitech Touchpad with the corporate "Dell from Hell," for the last few weeks and it's good (better than a mouse for most tasks) but nothing like as slick as Apple's Magic Trackpad (or indeed the trackpad built into my MacBook Air). MSFT and its partners need to get slicker in this area.

As to the reviewed notebook, I would much prefer it to the Dell as a business travel companion.

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Very like an 11" Air

Like the one I have; almost the same hardware spec, slightly cheaper than mine was. USB3... OTOH with the thunderbolt on mine you actually can plug it into that 27" monitor and use it fully (if it has DisplayPort); with the mini-hdmi on this one you can't.

But... it still looks like a very nice Ubuntu laptop in the making and the closest yet to being competitive with the MBA.

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Sro what's that about Windows Media Player...

...er, do you mean "download VLC (the real VLC), free"?

I have some media ("radio" files captured from Freeview television-and-radio broadcasts) that don't get on with VLC (and more where the playback clock doesn't work properly), and I use smplayer to listen to those - still no timer though, and once in a while mplayer crashes. But there's a new version or two of smplayer that I haven't actually used. Must get around to that.

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Van

Invest in Aluminium stocks

What about not falling for the high price tag, metal case fad? and make do with plastic cases, that really have not been the weak point of laptop build quality. The majority have broken hinges and dodgey power supplies or power sockets.

Hopefully the RaspberryPi will put an end to the vain use of computers.

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WTF?

I have thought of many uses for a Raspberry Pi and eagerly await them shipping.

However, even I'm not bleedin' daft enough to try to replace a laptop with one.....

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I see three failure modes on laptops

Hinges?! I have never seen failed hinges on a laptop. I've on 4 occasions removed a failed LCD from an old laptop, and on every occasion, more than half of the time spent was spent working over the hinges. In one case I turned to bolt-cutters. I can't imagine them being a failure point.

The failure modes that seem to be the most common in my experiences with laptops are:

Dead spinning drives, due to careless handling - SSD's render this moot

Broken power connectors

Broken screens

How do screens get broken? Aside from user-idiocy, generally by the laptop getting crushed while closed in a bag/etc. The metal case provides some protection against this, that you just don't get from a plastic case - especially on such a thin machine. The increased rigidity of the metal case should also help prevent the board from flexing, which should be good for reliability on that front as well.

Next time you're in a computer store, feel up a Zenbook and an Acer S3 (and the other ultrabooks if you can find them). Keep in mind that these are ultra portables, and you're supposed to carry them around with you. Which one do you think is going to last longer?

It's not like the metal case is the reason these machines cost a fortune, anyway - it's the SSD and the miniaturization required to squeeze a computer into the tiny formfactor. I've got the 13 inch zenbook, and the sturdy metal case was one of the reasons I went with it. I'm going to be carrying it around, it's going to be taking some abuse, and I want it to last. If i'm buying an expensive computer already, it makes sense to spend an extra 10% or so to get one that will last.

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Nya
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Kickstarted? pfft as like!

"kickstarted by Apple"

And Sony hasn't been banging out tiny full(ish) powered laptops much at all has it? Ok they have always been pricey, but have been around far longer than the Air line...heck they've been around longer than the entire aluminium Macbook line (Vaio G series was out March 2008, Apple went aluminium on the Macbooks in Oct 2008 before you whine).

Calling it "kickstarted" by Apple is simply feeding Apple marketing bollocks. There's always been small, fast, expensive laptops available.

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tiny full(ish) powered laptops

@Nya Apple introduced the "12" Powerbook in Jan 2003, I bought mine in 2004. It's a full(ish) powered (for its time) laptop and it's made of aluminium. Does it not count for some reason ?

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Nya

Re: tiny full(ish) powered laptops

And it weighed in at twice the weight of the Sony, and is what? 2" thick. The Powerbook was a doorstop let alone the fact it had a G4 in it.

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Joke

LOL

£850 - LOL

Just got myself a Dell XPS with i7 2670, NVIDIA GT 555M, 8GB 1333 ram, 17 inc screen (full hd), 750 GB hdd 7200rpm. all this for UNDER £850 delivered in under 7 working days!

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And your Dell is how big and the battery lasts how long and it weighs how much?

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FAIL

so it's a bit like a macbook air 11 except it's 18 months later on the market, and it can't run OSX. what a leap forward

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Design

It's shame that they made it look so dated; huge bezel and oblique text on the keycaps? Ouch.

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